Review for The Octo-Planetary Blade of Somnambulistic Benificence
by PM Schramm
The Octo-Planetary Blade of Somnambulistic Benificence. That’s quite a mouthful. And “beneficence” is spelled incorrectly. Anyway. Jeff Rients, longtime contributor to the OSR scene, working in conjunction with Lamentations of the Flame Princess under exclusive license, brings us this promotional item released, in part, as a fundraising effort. Getting a copy wasn’t easy - one needed to purchase the four other new Lamentations products Adventure Anthology: Blood, Big Puppet, Fermentvm Nigrvm Dei Sepvlti, and The Deck of Weird Things. If you were one of the first 200 to order, a copy of this product was be thrown into your goodie-bag.
So what is it? Is it worth tracking down with no PDF copy available? That depends.
Look, Feel, and Space Utilization
Lamentations of the Flame Princess is known for their high quality printings. The Blade, which I’ll now be referring to this booklet as, is no exception. Lavishly printed in a beautiful silvery-mirrored finish in an A5 format, this full-color, high quality product features 24 gorgeous pages including covers. Holding it is akin to what a character must feel when they uncover a magic item - it will definitely have a presence at the gaming table. Parsing through it is a joy, and it feels amazing to hold.
As far as how the 24 pages are utilized, the answer is form took priority over function here. Many pages are simply planetary or space photographs. But they sure do look incredible. The only real negative to how this book is designed is that the mirror finish is inherently fragile. The smallest bits of sand, dirt, or crumbs will scratch the finish and be visible, so care must be taken if the idea is to keep this product pristine.
So what is The Blade about? Put simply, a magical item. The content within these 24 pages is an elaborate telling of an, eponymously named, magical sword. The first page is a history of the weapon, the next two describe how it works, and the remaining delve into the various planetary shifts and how it affects the sword’s powers.
In essence, while the blade is in the possession of a PC, there’s a chance during sleep of the character having a strange dream. When these dreams happen, roll a d8 (hence the “octo” in the name), and refer to the page of the resultant planet the roll indicated. Then, roll 2d6 on the table listed on that page and ad-lib a dream with themes from the results. Once the dreamer awakens, the blade will be imbued with a unique power based on which planet was rolled:
- Mercury - slice through the fabric of reality to teleport to another location
- Venus - centipedes erupt from wounds inflicted by the sword
- Earth - the blade will phase through armor
- Mars - the sword collects magical energy
- Jupiter - piercing the heart of a corpse momentarily revives the body
- Saturn - the weapon gets a mind of its own that aids, or hinders, the wielder in combat
- Uranus - the blade can cut anything
- Neptune - those killed by the weapon swap histories with the wielder
Half the fun of the blade is figuring out exactly what it does based on the dream, and there are various rules and tips included within the booklet on how a player can do such a thing. In addition, if the player figures out the relationship between the dreams and the sword’s powers there’s a possibility that they can help guide their dreams to the desired results. Furthermore, if the player expounds on that discovery and then ever wonders aloud whether or not their dreams are physically affecting the planets above, a surge of eldritch insight has a chance to obliterate their brain. Simply awesome!
The Blade is short and sweet and the rules within are not complicated. There was no real reason to include a table of contents or leverage inside covers here; although I do wish that a copy of the planetary table was listed in an easily accessible location in addition to being found on page two; including page numbers for the various planets on the table would have been a good inclusion as well.
Understanding that this booklet is a limited edition promotional item, it still would be benefitted by a PDF version, even if that version were only available for those who were lucky enough to get a copy. As mentioned previously, the mirror finish is easy to scuff, so the less physical handling needed the better and, when not being directly used at the table, it would be preferable to have this viewing option available.
So, is The Blade worth tracking down? Probably not. The net-net of it is that this was a promotional item available as an extra incentive to try to kick-start Lamentations of the Flame Princess’s fundraising attempt. Is it badly written or low-quality? Absolutely not. It’s just a little light on the content for what you’d have to pay for it. Knowing what you’re getting here is important, and at the end of the day it’s just a singular magic item designed to bring a little fun to the table. That said, this booklet succeeds at what it attempts to do and then some - it is a showpiece. And a beautiful one at that. It is undeniably dazzling, and is sure to bring interest and wonderment to the players who get to see it used during a live game.
Link to Review
As this booklet isn’t readily available, please have a look at the video version of this review for a rare glimpse of it: